Casimir Laska isn’t your typical student studying computer security and networking at Waukesha County Technical County. That’s because he’s also a patent attorney at Michael Best.
“A lot of the other students don’t even know what a patent attorney is,” he said. “I’m definitely an unusual student, but it’s been fun and being around young people.”
Laska initially retired from Michael Best in 2010 to spend more time with his then-preteen daughter, driving her to extracurricular activities and helping with homework. During his retirement, he started taking classes at WCTC.
“I’ve always been interested in technology and wanted to know more but never had time to take classes,” he said.
As his daughter got older, Laska’s time freed up and he returned to practicing law earlier this year.
“I’m still taking classes and my practice is now focused more in the areas I studied,” he said. “I’m putting into practice what I learned.”
The technical training he gained studying areas such as computer networking, computer network security and intrusion detection help him better understand some of the ideas his clients bring for patents.
Laska said patent law is a fast-changing field. Not only does he need to understand the technical side of the ideas presented and how best to secure them, but the rules about how patents are filed have changed. Besides helping companies and individuals file for patents, he also assists clients with the preparation and negotiation of patent licenses, non-disclosure agreements and software licenses
“It’s now a race to the patent office. It’s not who has the idea first, but who is first to file,” he said. “We have to work faster.”
Initially in law school, Laska was drawn to patent law when he realized he could blend his interest in the law with his love of technology.
“It’s a good fit and I really enjoy learning new things,” Laska said.
Wisconsin Law Journal: What makes your work important to you?
Casimir Laska: I enjoy assisting clients protect their research. Patent protection may give clients a competitive edge. It helps protect the jobs of their employees because the clients’ competitors are less likely to make products which are identical to the clients’ products. That protection should also help their product sales. I also enjoy mentoring young patent practitioners, because mentoring allows me to transfer my knowledge and experience to the next generation of patent engineers and attorneys.
WLJ: Who is your hero in the legal field?
Laska: My heroes are the attorneys who encouraged me to become an intellectual property attorney and who trained me during my early years of practice.
WLJ: What do you do outside of work to deal with stress from the office?
Laska: I take classes at Waukesha County Technical College in computer networking and computer security, and I participate in cyber security competitions. These activities help me stay current in the computer security field, which is a special interest for me. I also enjoy attending many of our daughter’s extracurricular activities.
WLJ: What’s one thing many people get wrong about what you do?
Laska: Many people believe that patents, trademarks and copyrights are all the same. When I tell people that I am a patent attorney, they often start telling me about a trademark or copyright problem they have heard about.
WLJ: What’s your favorite memory from law school?
Laska: My favorite memory was winning our mock trial during our trial practice course. It was a personal injury case and I was the only person on our team with personal injury experience. I was a law clerk at a personal injury firm at the time. It was gratifying to know that I made a significant contribution to the team.
WLJ: Is there a certain case that stands out to you?
Laska: Years ago, I prepared a patent application on a satellite that could shoot down missiles or other satellites. It received its patent.